Tuesday, October 28, 2008

HORROR EPICS: Battle Royale

BATTLE ROYALE (2001)
I don’t think I can find the words to do proper justice to Battle Royale, but I’m going to give it my best shot anyway. Quite simply, Battle Royale is the best horror movie I’ve seen released in this decade. Everything else I come across either ranks a distant second, or doesn’t even come close. There is a chance that someone could release a masterpiece in 2009, but considering that most modern horror movies are remakes of semi-obscure ‘70s movies, I’d say that’s highly unlikely. The story is like the TV show “Survivor” residing in the depths of hell. In an effort to curb teenage rebellion, the Japanese government signs the BR Act, in which high school kids are forced to kill each other off in a brutal game of survival taking place on a deserted island. Each student is issued a backpack with minimal supplies and only one weapon, some of which are completely useless in a fight to the death. Bomb-enabled collars have already been attached to their necks to ensure that they’ll do as they’re told. Let the games begin, indeed. Some of the kids band together trying to conceive a way out of this, and others simply try to avoid killing anyone. Of course there are also those who give in and use the game as an opportunity to extract revenge on their classroom enemies. Battle Royale was reportedly quite the controversial film in Japan due to the openly anti-adult and anti-establishment statements expressed within the story and characterization. The BR Act itself is in part the result of adults dodging their responsibilities in dealing with the widespread problem of rebellious kids boycotting school. Believe me, there is NEVER a dull moment in this film. It’s as violent as you’d expect it to be. My standards for what constitutes gratuitous violence may differ from yours, but I personally never thought it went over the line. The carnage is realistic (mostly) and effective. Dare I say the shootout in the lighthouse was perversely beautiful in a way? The cast becomes their respective character, at least the ones that aren’t killed almost instantly. Watch it in the right frame of mind, and you feel like you’ve been through hell with them when it’s over. Based on a book (which also caused quite a stir in Japan) that became a manga comic; and followed by an inferior and overblown sequel. Forget the new; call this the true ultraviolence.

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